There’s a common misconception about a TV weatherman’s working day, as Channel 4 weatherman Liam Dutton explains:
“It’s like I put on a suit, rock out, read a script, wave my arms for two minutes, and then go home. But in truth it’s kind of a one-man show.
“Obviously I work in a newsroom but I do research in the mornings, look at the weather data and what’s happened, not just in the UK but around the world, whether there’s hurricanes or anything. Then follows a research process and the compilation of the weather graphics.
“We have a nifty mix of PowerPoint and Google Earth and you can put data on it to see the weather anywhere in the world for the next week or so. Then the last part is the actual presentation.
“There’s a storytelling element that runs through everything. What is important tomorrow? Which part of the UK do I need to focus on?
“What things do I really need to hammer home over the weekend, say, if there’s a big storm, if people are going away?
“So you have a passion for the weather, but also a personal responsibility to make sure what you say in those two minutes covers everyone and it’s not easy to make everyone in the UK feel included are.
“Everyone has their turn at some point. But it’s a great job and everyone is interested or affected by the weather.”
Unlike some of his peers on, say, The Weather Channel, Liam stays warm and doesn’t have to go out in all weathers, often into the wind’s teeth.
“The last time I went out into the field was during Storm Doris, which swept across North Wales and into the North West of England. It was bad and unfortunately a few people lost their lives.’
“Lights, Weather, Action” is a combination of bright colors and captivating graphics by Giordano Poloni and lively lyrics by Liam. There’s a lot going on on the site to please the eye and satisfy the curiosity of the 7-11 year olds who are the target audience for Weather, Camera, Action!
“We didn’t want it to be like an encyclopedia with things like diagrams because at a young age it can be quite daunting and feel too much like a textbook.
“We wanted to make this a fun, refreshing, and engaging book – still all the information kids need, but they can pick up the book, read about hurricanes, and then put it down.” Especially when, for example, a hurricane named Ian is headed for the Florida coast and you want to know why.’
In addition to hurricanes, the book explains phenomena such as air pollution, jet nozzles, weather bombs, and dust devils, and underscores the wide variety of weather patterns, shapes, and manifestations.
There can’t be many issues that have changed so much in a short space of time. Apparently the weather itself has changed as Liam has been studying it due to climate change and the climate emergency. Liam agrees:
“A strong example is that since I started the weather twenty years ago we have broken the UK high temperature record three times, the first time in 2003 when it hit 38.5 degrees, then I think it was in 2019 , when we had 38.7 and then to reach 40.3 in the UK this year is amazing.
“My colleagues always thought it would happen at some point, a good bit later. But it was surprising.
wake up call
“It’s a wake-up call explaining why weather and climate are so important right now and especially young children it helps to understand what’s going on around them, what it means and why it’s happening and also how it relates to climate change.” .
“Little kids are so preoccupied with what’s going on around them anyway, and what we can do as adults is help them make sense of things.”
It’s always raining
An old saying about the weather in Wales is that it always rains, or at least that’s what some people think… “It’s true that the west side of the UK is the wettest, because we bring all the systems from the Atlantic with wind and rain, but even in Wales you can see big differences in a small area.
“With a band of rain coming in from the Atlantic, the mountains to the west are taking the worst, but places in the sheltered north-east like Hawarden in Flintshire and you’re getting little. That’s what fascinated me growing up in Wales. these massive fluctuations over short distances.’
Liam Dutton became interested in the weather at the age of six, and it was an interest that has continued to engage and deepen him.
“I grew up in Cardiff, in Splott, and it could rain in the city and you could just look up at Caerphilly Mountain and see the hills literally covered in snow just 10 minutes away. All these things I saw around me, all these contrasts and wondering why it snows there while it rains here led to a fascination with the differences from place to place.
“The fact that Wales is such a dramatic disparity helped nurture this fascination with the weather, both as a child and as I grew older. I read more about it and then the internet gave me access to data and satellite data.
“I grew up in a time when so much information became available at once. It kind of fueled interest. I thought I love that if I could have a career and get paid for it that would be brilliant. And here I am all these years later doing just that.”
As the book shows, the weather is beautiful or even invisible, as is the case with the wind. What is Liam Dutton’s favorite phenomenon?
“When you see a rainbow, that big arc of color across the sky. We’re always rushing around with things to do, places to be, and I think a rainbow is probably one of those few occasions that people actually stop and actually look up and stop and at the sky look, almost have a moment contemplation.
“I saw the Northern Lights. Ironically I went to Iceland a few years ago but didn’t see them because it was too cloudy, but I did a city break in Edinburgh in March and when I opened the curtains I could see this glow in the distance.
“I thought they must have some kind of laser light show or something, but it was actually the Aurora Borealis that I unexpectedly saw. I’d like to see them clearly, say in Norway, but there was this green glow in the sky, kind of a living gray mist, it was pretty eerie.”
Meteorology and weather forecasting are now aided by number crunching on huge computers and data provided by a stellar array of satellites. So do they get it right more often?
Liam puts it simply. “The four-day forecast is as accurate today as the one-day forecast was in the early 1980s. Computing power has increased by one day per decade. However, snow is always difficult to predict…’
The book ends on a very positive note, highlighting ways in which young readers can contribute to combating climate change through their own actions, e.g. B. Turning off lights and electrical devices when not in use.
“Kids can find this stuff annoying, yes climate change is scary, but there are also positive things, things that are empowering because they’re things they can do to help.”
“Weather, Camera, Action! A Meteorologist’s Guide to the Sky’ by Liam Dutton and Giordano Poloni is published by Templar Books and available in all bookstores.
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